Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Q&A with author Erica Orloff

As part of the weekly author Q&A series, I am proud to present the multi-published, multi-talented Erica Orloff. I have known Erica for years and am constantly amazed at her talent, creativity, and productivity. I think she’s published something like 20 books now? At any rate, she’s prolific and generous and a gem to chat with. She’s the author of Spanish Disco, The Roofer, Mafia Chic and more… please join me in welcoming author Erica Orloff.

Hi Erica. Can you tell us about Freudian Slip?
Well . . . it's a romantic comedy about angels and demons intervening in the lives of mortals. But it's very quirky. God is a woman, Albert Einstein is an angel . . . and the hero is a raunchy, porn-obsessed radio DJ; the heroine is a woman still grieving her father's death, who has just walked in on her boyfriend cheating on her. Hilarity (hopefully) ensues.

What are some of the difficulties in writing a comedy that deals with death?
I think it's tricky because people can obviously just have a strong initial reaction to the idea of a comedy about something traditionally darker. But right from the outset of this book, readers will know it's quirky and humorous.

How will fans find Freudian Slip different from your recent titles?
It's edgy but in a much quirkier, hopeful, sweet way. It's more of a real romance in that sense. But really? It's still my sense of humor and my characters.

Tell us a bit about your journey as an author.
You know, I started out in chick lit, which is SO tough to sell these days. But I also always wrote some darker fiction. I eventually, because I have four kids, also wanted to venture into YA and middle-grade fiction just to have my own kids share in the process. I think as a writer, I've grown . . . and I still love that I wake up and get to work in my pjs all day.

What have been some of the challenges in your career as a writer? How did you overcome these?
The challenges have at times been those things you never anticipate when you sell your first book. An editor leaving and your book being somewhat orphaned. Personnel changes at publishing houses . . . imprints closing. The market changing. And then recently, the recessionary blues. But . . . I try to keep my head down and keep on writing.

What advice do you have for writers starting out?
I firmly believe in writers' groups. Solid critique partners. That has worked very well for me. I've worked as a book editor myself, and over the years have been asked to read submissions here or there. What I saw VERY CLEARLY is a lot of people think "they're ready" to submit. And they're not. Really take time to learn craft. Network. And recently, I've been thinking a lot about developing your own voice. That's tricky advice, since voice can be elusive, but I also realize now when I don't care for a piece of fiction, it's a lot of times because it's just a "meh" to me. There's nothing absolutely unique about it.

How has social media and technology enabled you to connect with readers?
I've been amazed at how much more I hear from readers now on Facebook, for example, or my blogs. That's been a lot of fun. I think it's important--my editors do, too.

What’s up next for you? What can readers look forward to?
I have the next in my middle grade fantasy series, The Magickeepers, coming out next spring. I have a YA for Penguin coming out after that (called Star-crossed). I am just pulling together proposals for new ideas now.

How can readers learn more about you and your books?
My website is the best place: And for writers, the blog there is a pretty active place with writers offering advice, support, and discussing writing.

Thanks, Erica! I appreciate you taking the time to talk about Freudian Slip and your latest news.


If you enjoyed Erica’s comments, let her know. Leave you questions and comments here, or visit her at her blog.

Also, as a special feature during the month of August, I will have a number of authors posting guest blogs here. Erica happens to be one of them, scheduled for August 24th so mark down that date, as Erica Orloff will be giver her take on “how to be a writer.”

Since this is interview day, I wanted to send out some thanks to Lorna Suzuki who recently interviewed me on her blog at Authors Den. Lorna was very generous and had some great questions for me, so be sure to check it out. Thanks, Lorna!

Don’t forget – there’s a book giveaway coming up in September. I’ll be randomly selecting a name from the group of followers listed on the right, so if you haven’t clicked to follow yet, do it now to be entered for your chance to win a signed copy of one of my titles.

And while I usually post Mon, Weds, and Fri… I’ll be posting a special piece on Thursday, so please check back in to leave your comments for a special project I’m working on. Oooh, the mystery of it all.

Until tomorrow, happy reading!


  1. I think your advice…or observation…that submissions the writer thinks are ready, are in fact still short on quality. About the only way to find out is have a knowledgeable third party read the query or whatever it may be. Therein is a challenge. Finding a good critique group is though. Any suggestions on how to do that? Thanks.

    Best regards, Galen

    Imagineering Fiction Blog

  2. Hi Galen,

    I’m hoping Erica will have some feedback for you, but for now I can share my thoughts.

    In my experience, a critique group is best when it happens organically. What I mean by that is, when you network with writers local to your area or perhaps in a comfortable setting online, commonalities emerge and even if you’re working on different genres or markets, you’ll notice if you share common goals and have experiences you relate to one another. From there, you can establish a respect from one another in which a critique atmosphere can blossom.

    I’ve found that deliberately seeking a critique group online can be like throwing spaghetti at the wall. You hope for something to stick, but unless you develop some groundwork for mutual interests and respect first, it’s hard to know who will make a great partner.

    That being said, one way to meet writers in your area who are already meeting to discuss and critique is through I’ve found that’s usually a great start for finding locals and for making some good connections. Another option is to join in on discussions with members of an organization that promotes your chosen genre. So, International Thriller Writers, Romance Writers, Sci-Fi… there’s a lot of organizations out there, and sometimes that can be a great way to meet others looking to partner up.

    Again, hopefully Erica pops back in here to share her ideas on finding a critique group that works.

    Best of luck, Galen!

  3. Hi Galen:
    I've never tried to find one online, and generally believe Lori's advice is spot-on. For me, I basically formed my own. I started with one writer I liked a lot, and we began meeting at my kitchen table 15 years ago. And as we would find other like-minded people, we added. Over the years, it was a little more formalized--I have a set of guidelines now for new people who might want to join, and we have a three-meeting trial period and each member has veto power. It's a particular balance . . . so I wouldn't want to mess with our vibe (which is tough but supportive).

  4. I do miss those chick lit days. It's funny, but a pipe burst in our basement by my office, and as I was packing up today, I discovered my treasured and beloved "Diary of a Blues Goddess" was irretrievably ruined. :-( Which stirred up my feelings when I sat down by my piano to write my blog post today, too, LOL.

    Great interview!

  5. Erica, thanks for stopping in to share your thoughts!

    Natasha... oh that's awful. I always feel so sad when I see water-damaged books in store discount bins (or in a soaked basement at home). Now if that doesn't give you the blues...

  6. Great interview and Freudian Slip truly is a funny yet moving book. One of the best I've read in a long time.

  7. Thanks, Travis. Be sure to come back for Erica's special guest blog in August!

  8. After reading your interview I went to my usual e-book store and searched for Erica's books, and hooray, they were there! Freudian Slip will be next week's purchase, I'm looking forward to it. Thanks!

  9. Oh, that's great, Karla! I'll be sure to share that with Erica. I am sure she'll appreciate your interest. Thanks for coming by!